Religious gurus and seniors of various ethnic communities today pledged to reduce child marriage in Siraha.

Seniors of ethnic communities attending an interaction organised by Dalit Development Front at Mirchaiya pledged to curb child marriage.

Jibaccha Prasad Sah of the Sah community said that he would do everything possible to discourage child marriage in the village. "People know that child marriage is bad, but they are continuing with it due to deep-rooted traditional beliefs. I shall play a lead role in controlling such marriages," Sah added.

The state announced child marriage unlawful and punishable 20 years ago, but, the practice continues till date, admitted Laxman Pandit of the Pandit community. "People report to us before they marry off their daughters. We shall discourage them from marrying off daughters who have reached the age of 20," said Pandit.

Ram Narayan Mahato of the Mahato community held the dowry system, lack of education and superstition responsible for child marriage.

"The state of education is pathetic. Lack of education and dowry system are leading to increasing cases of child marriage. Focus should be laid on education to stop child marriage," he added.

At the programme, Inspector Shyam Prakash Yadav said that child marriage was a punishable crime. "Child marriage is a crime in the eyes of the law. So, locals have to report to police, the court and the local judicial committee," added Inspector Yadav.

The marriageable age is 20 in Nepal.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 22 2021, of The Himalayan Times.